Designers have made it possible to bring numerous products out of the warehouse and into the showroom, thereby increasing revenue. Better store design may have something to do with reported average increases of 61 percent in in-store sales and rentals and more than 10 percent in total revenue in the last 10 years.
Redesigning stores so they display all merchandise effectively can be relatively easy. For example, it is possible to place 44 varieties of points and chisels in a compact, attractive 4-foot section. This display doesn't occupy much space, yet sales possibilities are increased by 44 items.
If you prominently display such items as aluminum picks or brakes, bullfloats, 16-foot screeds and 40-foot stepladders, customers won't have to ask if you have them in stock - they will automatically know. Remember, customers can't buy what they can't see.
Another advantage of displaying your inventory in the showroom is that your personnel won't have to leave the customer alone in order to check the warehouse, reducing the opportunity for pilferage. One store owner told me that once while he was in the warehouse, his cash register was stolen. This is a problem that, through simple redesign, can easily be eliminated.
In the equipment rental business, the only person who comes into the store is someone who wants to buy or rent a specific item. If, however, an item is properly displayed with related accessories next to it, then - bingo! - it can be the easiest sale you have ever made. With thoughtfully placed accessories, no suggestion is required and no clerk needs to run back and forth from the warehouse.
Over the last 10 years, my colleague and I have found that the most effective way to make an easy sale is by proper departmentalization, or knowing what products to place where. Putting seasonal items such as heaters, fans, coolers and Gatorade at the front of the store will achieve maximum exposure for impulse buying. Placing high-demand items on the side walls forces customers to walk through the store, letting them see all you have to offer. Finally, frequently pilfered items should be placed near the checkout for easy surveillance.
A professional designer will consider all of these elements when creating a traffic pattern that makes customers walk where you want them to, instead of making a beeline for the counter.
One of the major changes in the past 10 years has been the large number of mergers and acquisitions, causing growing concern about keeping up with "the big boys." What was good business practice 30 years ago - or even 10 years ago - doesn't work today. The same goes for store design.
The large chains know the value of a professional-looking store. They don't just throw old pumps and generators wherever there is an opening. They know the value of a traffic pattern. They don't keep a piece of machinery for 30 years expecting it to keep up with new machinery. They put impulse and seasonal items on gondolas and ensure that the checkout is in its proper place.
Another display tactic being used is "bagging." This involves taking a package of bulk items and separating them into small bags for those customers who do not need to buy a large quantity. For example, a store can offer a bag of four rolls of roofing nails taken from a pack of 100 and mark the price up 400 percent to 500 percent for highly profitable results.
Many second-generation owners realize the need to update their stores to compete with the conglomerates. Where Dad was happy with the store exactly as he made it 30 years ago, the new generation wants an up-to-date look. For example, the old handmade wooden shelves are being replaced by more durable Groove-Perf, allowing the use of canopies, bases and heavy-duty shelves. By upgrading their stores, many second-generation owners say they are seeing positive results.
The most important part of doing a redesign is making your store an extension of you. Some people who redesign like to color-coordinate the fixtures to match their logo color. The drab "any color you want as long as it is beige" look is becoming a thing of the past. Try to create a bright, colorful look that makes buyers and renters want to come in.
Give them reasons to come in, too. A cup of coffee is the cheapest way we know. A designer would put it in a place where it would make the buyer walk around the store. Never put the coffee near the checkout. Use it as part of the traffic pattern. The same holds true with vending machines. Put them in the front of the store against a side wall where customers will see other available merchandise.
A qualified designer is one who understands your business, product lines and customer needs. And one who knows the industry, past, present and future.
PQs: The most important part of doing a redesign is making your store an extension of you.
What was good business practice 30 years ago - or even 10 years ago - doesn't work today. The same goes for store design.
By properly displaying an item and related accessories next to it, then - bingo! - it can be the easiest sale you have ever made.